Well, June has been another odd month where nothing seems very normal. Lockdown has eased and bookshops are open but I’m trying to be really careful still and only going to shops for essentials like food and medicine so a visit to Waterstones will have to wait unfortunately.
A bit of good weather and a week off work meant that I managed to read a fair bit and made a small dent in my Netgalley shelf which is getting a little out of control.
Read on to see which books I read, bought and received.
Books I Read
Island of Secrets by Rachel Rhys
Havana, Cuba in 1957, a country on the cusp of revolution and a young British woman plucked from her mediocre life to glamour, heat and scandal. What more can you want from a summer read?
A Theatre For Dreamers by Polly Samson
Another slice of sumptuous historical fiction, this time set on the Greek island of Hydra. Featuring a cast of real life artists and writers such as Charmian Clift, George Johnston, Axel Jensen, Marianne Ihlen and Leonard Cohen, this is a great read which transported me to this sun soaked isle.
The Truants by Kate Weinberg
This book had everything I love in a novel and more. A close group of friends, a University setting, a mystery and power play.It is a dazzling and immersive read.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
This book has been everywhere over the past month or so and rightly so. It’s an exceptional novel about race, family, sisterhood and society and I adored it.
Full review coming soon!
Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly
A slice of dark crime centered around a cold case, this is an accomplished and assured debut.
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
This is one of these books that you wish you’d read sooner. If you are one of the few which hasn’t read it yet then please get yourself a copy. I’ll be posting a full review over the next couple of weeks.
You Have To Make Your Own Fun Around Here by Frances Macken
I really wanted to love this book but I just couldn’t connect with it. Set in a small town in Ireland it centres around three friends who can’t wait to leave. Female friendships, toxicity, a kind of mystery and first love are all explored but it fell a bit flat for me.
Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan
When Paediatric Dr Liz is called to see a baby with a head injury in A&E she is shocked to see that the baby is the daughter of her best friend. This event is the catalyst for an unravelling of friendships and relationships. It’s great stuff and I’ll have a full review soon.
The Better Liar by Tanen Jones
Deliciously dark and twisty this is a cracking read with a great premise. An inheritance, a stolen identity and a whole load of twist and turns make this an entertaining read. I’ll have a full review soon.
This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens
Minnie and Quinn were born minutes apart in the opening minutes of the 1990s. Now, 30 years later their paths are crossing again, but is romance on the cards?
I’ll have a full review on the 1st August as part of the Blog Tour.
Books I Bought
We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker
‘You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved . . .’
Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.
Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.
Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.
Murder, revenge, retribution.
How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?
The Weight Of Love by Hilary Fannin
London, 1996. Robin and Ruth meet in the staff room of an East London school. Robin, desperate for a real connection, instantly falls in love. Ruth, recently bereaved and fragile, is tentative.
When Robin introduces Ruth to his childhood friend, Joseph, a tortured and talented artist, their attraction is instant. Powerless, Robin watches on as the girl he loves and his best friend begin a passionate and turbulent affair.
Dublin 2017. Robin and Ruth are married and have a son, Sid, who is about to emigrate to Berlin. Theirs is a marriage haunted by the ghost of Joseph and as the distance between them grows, Robin makes a choice that could have potentially devastating consequences.
The Weight of Love is a beautiful exploration of how we manage life when the notes and beats of our existence, so carefully arranged, begin to slip off the stave. An intimate and moving account of the intricacies of marriage and the myriad ways in which we can love and be loved.
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
‘Every voice raised against racism chips away at its power. We can’t afford to stay silent. This book is an attempt to speak’
The book that sparked a national conversation. Exploring everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand race relations in Britain today.
Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear
WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW
In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.
WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW
In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?
Beach Read by Emily Henry
TWO WRITERS, ONE HOLIDAY. A ROMCOM WAITING TO HAPPEN…
January is a hopeless romantic who narrates her life like she’s the lead in a blockbuster movie.
Gus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.
But January and Gus have more in common than you’d think:
They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
And they need to write bestsellers before summer ends.
The result? A bet to swap genres and see who gets published first.
The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely…
A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.
But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . . ?
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.
Books I Received
All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 23rd July
Life is waiting to happen to Hubert Bird.
But first he has to open his front door and let it in.
In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment.
But Hubert Bird is lying.
The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul.
Until, that is, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on.
Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out.
Along the way Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . .
Life is certainly beginning to happen to Hubert Bird. But with the origin of his earlier isolation always lurking in the shadows will he ever get to live the life he’s pretended to have for so long?
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
Published by Random House on 9th July
‘Awfully opinionated for a girl’ is what they call Hillary as she grows up in her Chicago suburb.
Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus. Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader― and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm No.
How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?
With her sharp but always compassionate eye, Sittenfeld explores the loneliness, moral ambivalence and iron determination that characterise the quest for high office, as well as the painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world ruled by men.
Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham
Published by Canongate on 6th August
Twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike are enjoying a relatively comfortable life in Lagos in 1996. Then their mother loses her job due to political strife and their father gambles away their home, and the siblings are thrust into the reluctant care of their traditional Yoruba grandmother. Inseparable while they had their parents to care for them, the twins’ paths diverge once the household shatters: one embracing modernity as the years pass, the other consumed by religion.
Written with astonishing intimacy and wry attention to the fickleness of fate, Black Sunday delves into the chaotic heart of family life. In the process, it tells a tale of grace in the midst of daily oppression, and of how two women carve their own distinct paths of resistance.
Expectation by Anna Hope
Published in paperback by Transworld on 9th July
What happened to the women we were supposed to become?
Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.
Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?
Thanks for reading! Please do let me know in the comments beneath if you’ve read any of these books or if any have caught your eye!